Monday, 8 August 2011

Testing times for 'Sicknote' Schillo

When Steven Pienaar signed for Tottenham Hotspur back in January, the name Darren Anderton was not one Spurs fans expected to be reminded of.

But with yet another injury to his troublesome groin having apparently ruled the Bafana Bafana international out of the season opener against his old club Everton on Saturday, the 28-year-old is fast taking on the 'Sicknote' moniker that was reserved for the ex-England winger during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Despite spending a large proportion of his 12 years at White Hart Lane on the physio's treatment table, Anderton carved out a solid career in north London and is widely regarded as a loyal servant to the club (even if he is still waiting on a promised testimonial). If Pienaar is to be held in the same regard then he had better hope his injury troubles become a thing of the past.

Just five starts in the Premier League so far have yet to convince most Spurs fans that he was worth all the fuss following the switch from Everton in the last transfer window. With Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon occupying the wide positions and several other options in the centre of midfield, it remains unclear exactly how Harry Redknapp sees the new South African captain fitting into his plans.

His absence will give fringe players like Niko Kranjcar and Danny Rose the opportunity to establish themselves higher up the pecking order, although the potential sale of Luka Modric to Chelsea could hand him a much-needed lifeline. 

Pienaar's withdrawal from the Bafana squad that will meet Burkina Faso in Johannesburg on Wednesday night is also the second successive  international that he has been forced to miss. That's not great when you are trying to prepare for two crucial African Nations Cup matches that will determine the fate of Pitso Mosimane's men.

Siphiwe Tshabalala has taken over the armband in his absence and has also now amassed more caps than his more illustrious compatriot but doubts remain whether either is the right man for the job long-term. Spurs team-mate Bongani Khumalo - who made his debut on loan to Championship side Reading on Saturday - is most peoples' favourite and with Pienaar's 30th birthday coming up in March, he may find himself quietly moved to one side if the injury problems persist.  

But give the number of times his groin seems to have been afflicted in recent months, the prognosis doesn't look good. The problem first appears to have surfaced back in October 2010 when he was forced to miss a month of Everton's campaign and it also caused him to have two seperate lay-offs after moving to London, ruling him out of the Champions League quarter-final aganst Real Madrid.

Rumours that he was suffering from a hernia appeared to have dissipated as Pienaar prepared for the new season, although this latest setback makes the decision for him not to have surgery back in June now look extremely ill-judged.

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